LARC NEWS Posted: 9/25/2017 2:31:34 AM

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           Spackman Racing’s Time For Jess defeated Grade 1 Charger Bar Handicap winner Jess Good Reason by a nose to win the Grade, 1 $125,000 Mildred Vessels Memorial Handicap and a berth to the Grade 1, $750,000 Champion of Champions on Sunday at Los Alamitos.

The Mildred Vessels was closely contested, as six-time local stakes winner Jess Ravin crossed the wire a head behind Jess Good Reason to finish third with Thermonuclear Energy running another head back in fourth. In the winner’s circle, a joyful K.C. Spackman hugged and kissed anyone and everyone within reach.

“After all these years, we are in the Champion of Champions,” said Spackman, a second generation Quarter Horse owner. “This is just fun. We’ve been through a lot to get to where we are tonight. My dad, Kelly, has been around for years. My dad is still in charge. I’m so blessed to be where I am.”

Time For Jess will be the first starter in the Champion of Champion for Spackman Racing and also the first in the race for Lin Melton, one of the top Quarter Horse trainers in the history of the Northwest and Intermountain regions.

“It’s special being in the Champion of Champions,” Melton said. “Especially to do it the way she just did.  I’ve had her since she was a baby. We turned her out for like three months last winter. She’s pretty much been in that same stall for three years. That’s her home.”

“We’re excited,” Spackman said. “Lin’s had some wonderful owners and has been around a lot of great people over the year. Now we’re going to be in the final 10 in the Champion of Champions. Jackie, Lin’s wife, also deserves just as much credit. She’s our vet and has always been there.”

Ridden by Cesar De Alba, the 2016 leading Quarter Horse jockey at Los Alamitos, Time For Jess broke outwardly from the gate and had to chase Cina and John Sperry’s Jess Good Reason for the first part of the race.  

“Cesar didn’t panic and he just kept riding her,” Melton said. “She walked away from there. Cesar said she lost her focus, but he did a beautiful job riding her. He never touched her. She doesn’t like to be whipped. I know I would have been jumping up and down using the whip, but he just sat on her cool. I have to thank Cesar a ton. I figured that out a long time ago about her not liking the whip, but it’s hard to tell them riders that. They would say ‘she doesn’t like to be whip’ so I would tell them, ‘then quit whipping her.’  That’s how she is around the barn. She doesn’t like you messing with her. She loves people, but she doesn’t like you messing with her.”

Time For Jess covered the 400 yards in :19.801, while improving her record to seven wins from 24 starts. Bred by Kelly/Yearsley Equine LLC, Time For Jess earned $60,000 for the win to take her career earnings to $369,079. The talented mare also has some uniqueness to her personality.  

“She’s like a stud,” Melton added. “That’s how she behaves. She’s always been that way.”

“We own a breeding facility back in Idaho and we have broodmares,” K.C. added. “Lin said ‘I don’t know if she’s going to breed.’ I said ‘why is that?’ and he said, ‘because she thinks she’s a stallion.’ That’s just her way. She’s a blessing.”

“She’s a great mare,” Melton continued. “I’ll let her tell me what’s next. She likes to run, but I hate to run a great horse a lot. She does kind of thrive on racing. She loves the fall. She loves the cool weather. I’m okay with her running 440 yards. Tonight she (would have) liked it. We needed it. I was wanting 440 really bad tonight (with the way she started the race). She won’t be going to the AQHA Bank of America Racing Challenge now that we have a Champion of Champions berth. She’ll be staying here.”  

And on a night that featured a ton of Girl Power, the winning connections credited one additional fine lady for their success in Quarter Horse racing.

“My mom is the boss,” said K.C. of his Mother, Marilee.  

“She’s the one that keeps everybody sane,” added Melton with a smile.

And with the excitement of the Champion of Champions just around the corner on Saturday, December 16, and with Time For Jess now part of the field, it could be that she’ll be busy trying to keep the calm in the Spackman household.

Ridden by Jesus Rios Ayala for trainer Paul Jones, Jess Good Reason earned $25,625 for her second place finish. EG High Desert Farms’ Jess Ravin added $12,500 for running third, while Parsons Family Limited Partnership’s Thermonuclear Energy earned $8,750 for finishing in fourth place. Strawfinders Jessee, Maggie Durant, You Can Fly, and Jess Envision completed the field.

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